Primus inter pares – Palácio de Brejoeira – Alvarinho

So much has happened in terms of the Alvarinho grape in Portugal over the last 10 years or so that it is starting to get difficult to keep up. There was a time when the grape was only used as a varietal by a handful of producers in the Monção and Melgaço sub-regions of the Minho, but these days the grape is being grown and vinified from north to south of the country. On its home turf, some of the top producers have moved away from the traditional style, producing some very interesting variations on the wine.

And so it was that I recently decided to try Palácio de Brejoeira, a wine that once stood head and shoulders above any Alvarinho and today shares the top shelf with the likes of Soalheiro and Anselmo Mendes.

The magnificent palace that adorns the label is surrounded by ancient woodlands and 30 hectares of exclusively Alvarinho grapes. Priced at between €15 and €18 in shops, this is not a cheap wine by any means, but is a pure expression of the variety made with great care. The wine, like any traditional Alvarinho, is unoaked, but complex on the nose with mellow citric notes and a velvety smoothness in the mouth. A truly elegant wine that fully deserves its reputation as one of the best of its ilk and more than justifies the price tag.

By Patrick Stuart [email protected]